Breaking Through Failure
“Fall down seven times, get up eight.”- Japanese proverb
The spotlight was on my face, and I glared right back at it. I couldn’t remember what my line was, and I was petrified. My stage partner, whom I was in love with in the play, made a weird facial gesture. “Get on with it!” his face screamed. I quickly improvised, and we rushed off stage much too early. My vision went blurry as I apologized over and over to my cast member. I couldn’t believe after 20 + hours of memorizing Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”, I had failed to recall a simple line and cue. It was a disaster.
But the show went on! After that scene, everything was as smooth as butter on a bald monkey’s head.
Lesson: the show goes on. When we fail, even if it is a miserable tragedy of pride, we can get back up.
Failure is but another teacher we can learn from. In the movie Meet The Robinsons, I have a favorite quote about failure:
From failing you learn. From success…not so much!
AUNT BILLIE, Meet the Robinsons (2007)
While we learn things about ourselves through our successes, we learn so much MORE from our failures. Failures may burn like fire, but they teach us not to touch the flames. Becoming a leader insures failures—LOTS of them. But being a leader also means accepting those failures, and getting back up the eighth, ninth, and tenth time for those who need to get up the third or second time.
Failure defines our success. Scientific experiment relies on failure to build and create the correct reactions and predictions. Scientists can know and predict what may happen, but until they fail, they cannot understand and replicate the results. We should be mad scientists! Understanding what success means entitles us to some incredible failures.
There are so many analogies and metaphors, but I want to share an article that shows the success of failing.
Inspiring Failure Stories: Failure Turned to Fame – Jack Canfield and
Mark V. Hansen
From A Cup of Chicken Soup for the Soul and Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul
Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he finally succeeded.
Beethoven handled the violin awkwardly and preferred playing his own compositions instead of improving his technique. His teacher called him hopeless as a composer.
Colonel Sanders had the construction of a new road put him out of business in 1967. He went to over 1,000 places trying to sell his chicken recipe before he found a buyer interested in his 11 herbs and spices. Seven years later, at the age of 75, Colonel Sanders sold his fried chicken company for a finger-lickin’ $15 million!
Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lack of ideas. Disney also went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland.
Charles Darwin, father of the theory of evolution, gave up a medical career and was told by his father, “You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat catching.” In his autobiography, Darwin wrote, “I was considered by my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in intellect.
Albert Einstein did not speak until he was four years old and didn’t read until he was seven. His teacher described him as “mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in his foolish dreams.” He was expelled and refused admittance to Zurich Polytechnic School. The University of Bern turned down his Ph.D. dissertation as being irrelevant and fanciful.
The movie Star Wars was rejected by every movie studio in Hollywood before 20th-Century Fox finally produced it. It went on to be one of the largest grossing movies in film history.
Louis Pasteur was only a mediocre pupil in undergraduate studies and ranked 15 out of 22 in chemistry.
When NFL running back Herschel Walker was in junior high school, he wanted to play football, but the coach told him he was too small. He advised young Herschel to go out for track instead. Never one to give up, he ignored the coach’s advice and began an intensive training program to build himself up. Only a few years later, Herschel Walker won the Heisman trophy.
When General Douglas MacArthur applied for admission to West Point, he was turned down, not once but twice. But he tried a third time, was accepted and marched into the history books.
After Fred Astaire’s first screen test, the memo from the testing director of MGM, dated 1933, said, “Can’t act! Slightly bald! Can dance a little!” Astaire kept that memo over the fireplace in his Beverly Hills home.
The father of the sculptor Rodin [The Thinker Statue] said, “I have an idiot for a son.” Described as the worst pupil in the school, Rodin failed three times to secure admittance to the school of art. His uncle called him uneducable.
Babe Ruth, considered by sports historians to be the greatest athlete of all time and famous for setting the home run record, also holds the record for strikeouts.
Eighteen publishers turned down Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, before Macmillan finally published it in 1970. By 1975 it had sold more than seven million copies in the U.S. alone.
Margaret Mitchell’s classic Gone with the Wind was turned down by more than twenty-five publishers.
Richard Hooker worked for seven years on his humorous war novel, M*A*S*H, only to have it rejected by 21 publishers before Morrow decided to publish it. It became a runaway bestseller, spawning a blockbusting movie and highly successful television series.
When the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book was completed, it was turned down by thirty-three publishers in New York and another ninety at the American Booksellers Association convention in Anaheim, California, before Health Communications, Inc., finally agreed to publish it. The major New York publishers said, “It is too nicey-nice” and “Nobody wants to read a book of short little stories.” Since that time more than 8 million copies of the original Chicken Soup for the Soul book have been sold. The series, which has grown to thirty-two titles, in thirty-one languages, has sold more than 53 million copies.
In 1954, Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired Elvis Presley after one performance. He told Presley, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere… son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.” Elvis Presley went on to become the most popular singer in America.
Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected by twenty-seven publishers. The twenty-eighth publisher, Vanguard press, sold six million copies of the book.
There are incredibly beautiful things about failure. We have to be creative about seeing the diamond come out of the coal. Accepting our failures = becoming true leaders.
Passionate and enthused by writing, Grace strives to bring out the best in what she does. She challenges normal, everyday thinking with high-powered, inspirational topics.
She is the creator of “The Whitewash Chronicles” blog series—a blog for inspiration, motivation, and living your dreams!
Grace writes from experience. From an early age, she became depressed and had beginning stages of anxiety. Determined to change her thinking, she vigorously sought out mentors and alternative choices to help herself live to the fullest. For two years, Grace has been a advocate of personal study, growth, and leadership; always learning on the best principles and lives of highly successful people. As a teenager, Grace uses her unique insight into the social environments of the rising generation to create meaningful content.
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